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3 Life Lessons I Learned from Joanna Gaines

  March 17

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This week, I finished reading an incredible book that really surprised me (in a good way). Like millions of other people, I love Chip and Joanna Gaines and their hit TV show, Fixer Upper.

So, I wanted to read their book, The Magnolia Story. I patiently waited on a list of people at my library to get the audio book and listened to it over the course of the past two or three days.

I have to say, it wasn’t what I expected at all. You can tell Chip and Joanna are a loving couple on their show, and I thought the book was going to be like chick lit or a beach book, i.e. a romantic story about this couple who works together and runs their business together.

But it was way more than that. 

In fact,  The Magnolia Story was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and it moved me so much that I felt the need to write a post about it. Namely, I wanted to highlight the incredibly poignant lessons that Joanna teaches throughout it.

Here are three examples that really impacted me:

1. Finding Happiness


“It was such a blessing. . . thriving in the middle of pain. Unless you find a way to do that there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there – wherever ‘there’ is for you – you’ll be happy. But that’s just not life. If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in the beauty, either.” – Joanna Gaines


Many people look at Chip and Joanna Gaines and might believe they live a perfect life. However, I see them and I know they have incredible challenges. First of all, they have four kids. I know having young children is hectic. It can bring you to your knees with the work, sacrifice, and energy required to take care of them. Then, they have a business to run on top of that.

I’ll be honest; I find myself wishing for my kids to grow up often. Having twin toddles who are so high energy honestly feels like it’s going to break me some days.

I find myself wishing my kids were in kindergarten or first grade so I can have a full work day again, instead of breaking it up between their naps and babysitters and working after they’re in bed. This doesn’t mean I don’t love them or don’t love being around them. This just means it’s a really hard job and sometimes I’d like a break.

I find myself wishing for my husband to be finished with residency, to be making the full time doctor’s salary he’s been working towards for a decade. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate his job; it just means I’m ready for that last step, the final obstacle before he can start practicing medicine on his own.

I scrub the bathroom floor on my hands and knees wishing for a luxurious master bath of my own that doesn’t have pee stuck to the floor. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to own my home and have a working bathroom. It just means that one day, I’d like something a little nicer that I don’t share with little kids.

I rush to make a meal for my husband at 3:00 in the afternoon so he can have a full stomach before starting a 15 hour night shift. I try to tell him everything I need to tell him in 30 minutes because right now we’re on totally opposite schedules. I know the work he does is important, but I’m still adjusting to the fact that most of the time, his patients are going to need him more than I need him.

Honestly, it feels like our life is ugly at times – and hectic. I spend a lot of time wishing for something different. I spend a lot of time just overwhelmed with how much I have to do just to keep the house running, let alone be the breadwinner and the parent who spends the most time with our kids.

That’s why this quote from Joanna hit me hard.

If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in the beauty, either.

It’s time to start finding more moments of happiness during the day. This struggle, this work, is going to lead to something great for my family. It just might not be today.

This leads me to the next lesson Joanna taught me:


2. Getting the Reward


“Find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts. Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner.” – Joanna Gaines


Again, when you look at Chip and Joanna Gaines, you might think they have the magic touch. Every venture they start seems to turn to gold, but I loved their backstory in The Magnolia Story because it shows that you can’t create a great business empire without your fair share of hardship.

I don’t want to give it all away, but there were so many moments in the Gaines’ life where most people would have just quit. The only reason their business is successful is because those two have grit and passion, and they pushed through when things seemed impossible.

I’ve read many motivational quotes about not giving up, but I like how Joanna said “the reward is just around the corner.” I think part of what’s hard about running a business or working towards a big goal is you never know when the rewards will come.

Right now, I am in the middle of negotiations for four different possible partnerships, and I’m just waiting to hear back to see if these companies want to work with me. Every day, I think I’ll get an e-mail in my inbox saying the deal is on, but it’s been very quiet the past two weeks.

I think I just need to have a more positive attitude though. Maybe the reward is around the corner and maybe it isn’t, but hoping it is or putting faith on the fact that it might be is a better way to live each day.


3. It’s OK to Be Different


“I finally believed it was actually a beautiful thing to be unique and to be different.” – Joanna Gaines


When Joanna said this, she was referring to her Korean heritage, but I think it applies to many aspects of her life, and mine.

Running a business is different. Working in the evenings and on the weekends is different. Making the majority of our family income online is different.

I’ve written about this before, but over the years I’ve struggled a lot with the reactions of other people to my work. It’s hard to explain exactly what I do. It’s hard to put a name on it. It’s taken me a long time to garner my self worth from how I live my life vs. from what I do for my job.

Lots of people don’t “get it” and coming from a family who are all professionals with a brother and a sister who are an engineer and a doctor respectively, I sometimes feel like I’m the odd one out.

As the middle child, I feel like I’ve spent my whole life trying to find my place, trying to do things that matter, trying to make my parents proud.

Now, though, at almost 30 years old, I’ve realized none of that matters. I just need to make myself proud. I need to be happy with what I do and who I am. I don’t need to seek approval from anyone, and I need to be able to live my life and do my work in the absence of praise or recognition.

“I finally believed it was actually a beautiful thing to be unique and to be different.”

As you can see, this book really made a big impact on me, and I keep reading the quotes I posted above over and over again. If you want to read it, you might have to wait a while to get it from your library like I did, but it’s relatively affordable on Amazon too.

Have you read any good or inspiring books lately? If so, leave the title in the comment section. I’m always on the lookout for more.

6 responses to “3 Life Lessons I Learned from Joanna Gaines

  1. Wow, this book sounds powerful! I love that first quote–I definitely struggle with contentment and this is such a great perspective. I’m glad it encouraged you, too. I want to read this now!

  2. Thanks for sharing your learnings from the book. I can’t wait to have a copy of The Magnolia Story. Still working on being unique and different, Cath. 🙂

  3. Those are all great life lessons to remember and think about on a daily basis! I will definitely need to check out this book since you gave it such wonderful reviews! Plus I love the show as well 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing this. God only knows how much I needed to read your email today that linked me here. Thanks! ❤

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